Flat-Out Love (Flat-Out Love #1) by Jessica Park
Published: April 11, 2011
Source/Edition: Present from Veronica @ Talking Bookworm, Kindle eBook
Summary provided by Goodreads:
Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie’s off-campus housing falls through, her mother’s old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side … and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.
And there’s that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That’s because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie’s suddenly lonesome soul.
To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that … well … doesn’t quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.
I’ve dreaded writing this review because I hate giving books such a low rating. One stars are hardly ever given from me. Someone worked really hard to get their book out there and it sucks to have to give it this rating but it’s my honest opinion. I really wanted to like this book because so many people liked it and thought highly of it. Plus, my best friend Veronica loved this book and we’re usually on point when it comes to books. So let’s break this rating down.
(and yes, I love The Office!)
Okay. Where do I even begin? It’s so hard to organize my thoughts. So bear with me here, okay? So basically, I was not a fan of the writing. It wasn’t fitting to me. The dialogue between the characters fell flat for me. While I appreciate and admire the intelligence and wit of all the characters, I felt that it was so overdone. Absolutely every single character spoke the same way. It was hard to differentiate Julie’s voice from Matt’s, from Celeste’s (who’s 13 by the way!), and from Erin’s. Conversations were so lackluster for me and while I love nerdy — trust me I LOVE nerdy — Matt’s and Julie’s neediness felt very forced. Also, the way that the entire family, including Julie, spoke sounded too snobby and pretentious to me.
While the plot was sufficient enough, I just didn’t think it was as interesting as others thought it to be. I thought that it was kind of boring. I found myself having to force myself to read the book. I kept thinking that it will get better and that it’s just a slow beginning. I was waiting for the book to finally catch my attention. I reached 65% of the book and found that it still had yet to really pull me in. I kept pushing though because I refuse to DNF (Did Not Finish) it.
It’s a little hard for me to find something that I did like. I was intrigued as to why there was a Flat Finn and Celeste’s character definitely peaked my interest. I think my favorite part in this book was Finn. I liked that he was so lively in comparison to the rest of his family … and then you know the plot twist; the plot twist that I guessed about 40-50% into the book. This is a crazy feat since I never guess plot twists. My main issue with the book is that I had no emotional attachment to any of the characters or the plot. Apparently, it will be a series but I think it’s safe to say that I won’t be reading the rest.
I had to get past the whole being okay with living with absolute strangers. Julie’s never met any of them, never heard of them either but she’s okay living with them. This girl who’s afraid of elevators and escalators is more than okay with this situation? Okay, I’ll let it slide. Julie’s a smart kid, very intelligent, but I felt like she forcefully immersed herself in the family’s situation. Then, she took it upon herself to fix it … as if she had all the information, as if she’s known the family forever, as if she had the expertise to do so. It felt so intrusive considering that she was a guest in the home but I digress.
The book was supposed to have romance … where was it? I didn’t feel any emotion when it came to the romance. No fangirling, no shipping, none of that stuff happened here. I actually liked Seth and then they broke up. I actually liked Finn and then it wasn’t real Finn but Matt pretending to be Finn. I understand her falling for Finn through the Facebook conversations. I understand her anger at Matt for pretending to be Finn because I mean it’s kind of messed up. I also understand Julie saying that things can’t happen with Matt because of the whole falling in love with Finn. Two chapters later though, she sees Matt again and tells him she loves him and just really needs him — that I don’t understand.
Last thing I want to touch upon is how I felt like the book was devoid of emotion. I think the writing was the major reason for this. The writing felt harsh and forceful, lacking feeling and sentiment. As you know, I am a cry baby! I cry very easily and if something is written very well then it would most likely bring me to tears. I did not shed a single tear in this book and it’s such a heavy book with death and depression being prominent motifs. When Matt tells Julie about Finn’s death and Celeste witnessing it, I didn’t feel anything. When Erin tells Julie that Finn’s death was her fault, it didn’t elicit anything for me and that frustrated me to no end because it’s such a burden for her and the situation overall should just bring me to tears. But everyone has a different opinion and I’m sure I can talk your ears off but I’ll save you the trouble of having to read it all.